Methanol hasn’t impacted yachting the way batteries have. It hasn’t created as much hoopla as hydrogen fuel cells, either. Chartwell Marine is hoping to change that, though.
The British naval architecture firm has just unveiled what it claims will be the first vessel on the market to run exclusively on the biofuel. Chartwell received a $398,000 (£320,000) grant to implement a methanol propulsion system into a new design and enlisted the shipbuilders at Archipelago Expedition Yachts to help execute the concept. The result is a zero-carbon, ocean-capable catamaran called the Archipelago zero.63.
The multihull will be powered by a combination of a methanol-reforming system and a methanol combustion engine. It will also feature a dedicated “methanol room” that is large enough to house fuel cells totaling 300 kW. In short, the cat not only runs on clean fuel but has an entire infrastructure designed to support it.
“For this project, we wanted to cut through some of the noise being made about electric and hydrogen propulsion, which we feel simply aren’t ready for practical implementation on leisure craft,” Dr. Stephen Weatherley, managing director of Archipelago Expedition Yachts, said in a statement. “Methanol is the alternative fuel that ticks all the boxes for us as a sustainable, practical, and adventurous company, and we’re proud to have it at the heart of our newest offering to the market.”
For the unversed, methanol has little to no carbon footprint when produced from sustainable biomass and is safe for the local environment even when spilled. The fuel also gives yachts a far greater range than batteries. The Archipelago zero.63 can cover 2,000 nautical miles, in fact.
In addition, the cat sports sleek aluminum hulls that enable it to reach an impressive 18 knots at full tilt. It is also equipped with roughly 430 square feet of rooftop solar panels that generate energy to run the hotel load. It has a few batteries, too, that can hold any extra power.
As for aesthetics, the 63-footer takes design cues from the flagship Archipelago 47 catamaran that was launched last year. The spacious, flexible interior can comfortably accommodate up to eight sleepers across four cabins and is replete with elegant, modern furnishings. Outside, meanwhile, you’ll find space for lounging on the bow and stairs to two swim platforms aft.
Although the commercial sector has made significant investments in methanol fueling, the rest of the industry has been slow to embrace it. This could be the start of the methanol revolution, though.